So what did you like best about the latest victory for the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Was it escaping with another come from behind? Was it surviving the fall-from-ahead? Was it the impossible goal by the established star? Was it the first goal by the newcomer? Was it the controversy near the end?
The 4-3 victory by the Lightning over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night pretty much had it all. The Lightning played their worst period of the year in the third. They played well in a shootout. They could well have lost. They didn’t.
Along the way, Steven Stamkos knocked in a shot from a sharp angle with 5.5 seconds to play in regulation. Stamkos was about a foot behind the red line, yet someone got the puck past Florida goaltender James Reimer.
“It’s obviously not a shot that’s going to go in a lot,” Stamkos said, “but you screw around with it before and after practice when you shoot at those tough angles and you catch one. It was nice to see that one go in. That was one of the better shots of my career.”
Still, there was controversy along the way. Vincent Trocheck was in a shootout when he fumbled a puck along the way, then pushed it into the goal. The Lightning thought he had taken the puck backward and the goal had been correctly disallowed. But a check with the replay judge said there was no backward movement of the puck.
“I thought he lost control of the puck and he went in a backward direction,” Stamkos said. “You see the ref. He waves it off immediately before the puck goes in the net. I mean, Bish gave up on the play. The ref waved it off. He thought it was done. We all thought it was done.”
The Lightning managed to refocus, however, when rookie Brayden Point scored the winner in the shootout. Point had never scored an NHL goal, and he never took a penalty shot even in the minors.
“He does it in practice,” said coach Jon Cooper. “That’s good enough for me.”
Said Point: “I just tried to make the best of it. I just tried to relax. For sure, there were nerves. It was the first time I have ever done that in this league, so I was a little bit nervous but I just tried to make the best of it.”
The Lightning is now 3-0, and all three games have included coming from behind. Granted, the Bolts were 3-0 last year, as well, but Cooper says there is a difference.
“I think this team is better at 3-0,” he said. “Last year’s 3-0 was with a bit of smoke and mirrors.”
The Lightning is home Thursday against Colorado.